Redox flow batteries (RFBs) are particularly interesting for large-scale renewable energy because, unlike lithium-ion batteries, they store energy in electrolyte tanks rather than in solid electrodes. This allows their capacity to be scaled up cost-efficiently by changing the tank volume. The power density of RFBs is controlled by the electrodes, which is the focus of this PhD project. Current RFB electrodes typically consist of carbon felts sheets, which are readily available and cost effective, but offer limited control over the electrolyte flow field through the electrode. This project will develop new electrode architectures that optimise the flow of electrolyte though the electrode and improve the electron transport pathway to the current collectors. This study includes:
- Finite element models of flow through idealised electrode geometries to develop a rationale for better electrode geometries.
- Methods to structure commercially available carbon nanomaterials into well-organised superstructures drawing inspiration from packed bed reactor material design.
- Applying the developed electrode materials to advanced collector plates and MRI analysis methods.
- Optimisation of the electrode porosity for new electrolytes developed.
- Benchmarking of the electrodes against commercial carbon felt electrodes and quantifying reduction in pressure losses, ohmic losses and overpotential compared to commercial electrodes.
This multi-disciplinary project is supervised by by Prof Michael De Volder (Engineering) and Prof Clare Grey (Chemistry) at the University of Cambridge and is sponsored by Shell.
Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in an Engineering, Chemistry or Material Science related subject.
EPSRC iCASE studentships are fully-funded (fees and maintenance) for eligible UK students. International (including EU) students will be considered for partial funding (home-level fees and maintenance).
Further details about eligibility and funding can be found at: https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/help/eligibility/ https://www.postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/fees
To apply for this studentship, please send your two page CV, one page summary of research experience, and the contact details of two references to email@example.com to arrive no later than 7 February 2021.
Please note that any offer of funding will be conditional on securing a place as a PhD student. Candidates will need to apply separately for admission through the University's Graduate Admissions application portal; this can be done before or after applying for this funding opportunity. Note that there is a £70 fee for PhD applications. The applicant portal can be accessed via: www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/egegpdpeg . The final deadline for PhD applications is 30 June 2021, although it is advisable to apply earlier than this.
The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.
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